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Question DetailsAsked on 5/27/2017

Do any home warranties cover central air conditioner evaporator coil replacement?

It's hard to get a straight answer on this. CenterPoint Home Service Plus states: "Evaporator coil (A-coil)Cleaning" (sounds like a no), other plans don't specifically mention it. I read on one forum that most of them stop short of covering that part. Our AC is getting old and I've heard that's a common (and expensive) part to need replacement.

Anybody know of a good home warranty plan that specifically covers this part? I live in Minnesota. Thank you.

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1 Answer


Yes evaporator coils are pricey - commonly around $1000-2000 replacement cost if not under manufacutrer warranty - though if your unit is old you should probably just start saving up for a total replacement.

Some home warranty plans do technically cover coils - I know that. Choice Home Warranty, American Home Shield, First American are three I have seen/heard/read of covering (after a lot of pressure on them) coil and heat exchanger (in furnaces) replacement. I am not sure, but I think most home warranty companies only cover coils under their top-line coverage plans - "Full Coverage" or "Max Coverage" or similar name.

Some specifically exclude it, some exclude the necessary gas removal (to change out the coil, if it has not all leaked out) and replacement, etc - so you have to read the fine print.

Unfortunately, you asked if there is a "good home warranty plan" - in my opinion, no such critter. They all seem to make their money not just from the premiums (which are not enough to cover average annual repair on a house, much less cover their processing costs and profit in addition to claims), but by refusing service, making it extremely difficult to contact them (very limited hours, understaffed call centers, Asian operating hours, unintelligible representatives in Bangladesh or such), or by saying certain things (like replacement gas or coils or gas recovery) are not covered even though the warranty has no exclusions about those. They also count on a fair number of such policies not having claims because the homeowner forgets they have it - especially with those sold as part of a house purchase, where it commonly comes as part of the deal.

probably the most common nasty trend I have seen is them saying a part of the job is covered but not the related work needed to get it done - like maybe a plumbing repair is covered, but not the cost of tearing into the wall to locate it or the wall repair and repainting after the repair - even though the warranty itself (which is the controlling document) has no exclusions about that. On coils, saying the coil is covered but not the gas recovery and replacement, or maybe not the labor (which those three combined is typically about half the cost or more).

Another scam is not having any exclusions list with the warranty when you buy it, but then them coming up with a multipage or brochure-sized exclusion list when you actually file a claim (or at least claiming they are reading from one), saying (contrary to the contract) that they do not cover that - which is fraud, but a lot of them do it. Sometimes this is fraud by the warranty company, sometimes the contractor they are using is trying to charge extra outside their payment system, ripping you off without the warranty company maybe (or maybe not) knowing anything about it.

Another phrase I have seen is something along the line of "coverage for a specific claim is at the discretion of the company [the warranty company] and its decision shall be final and unchallengable" - which basically means they can reject any claim out of hand, so your "warranty coverage" is whatever they feel they have to grant to avoid undue bad press which would put them out of business - so they might cover small items, but not major costs.

Another gambit is claiming you have not done the proper maintenance or do not have proof of it (like who annually hires a contractor and keeps an invoice for dryer or reefer coil cleaning) so it is not covered - even though that maintenance item has nothing to do with the claim. I have heard there is one or more out there claiming lack of annual servicing is cause for denying all claims on appliances and HVAC equipment - based on the "manufacturer's recommendation" that the unit be cleaned and inspected by a professional yearly - phrasing which is in just about all owner's manuals but which is not generally used by the manufacturers themselves to deny claims - but home warranty companies are using that as an excuse to not pay. They can also claim (as some car manufacturers and car warranty companies claim) that DIY maintenance/cleaning is not "professional" so that does not count as maintenance - regardless of whether the warranty specificlaly says it has to be done by a licensed professional to count. There are a number of variations on the "not covered" denial of service - basically ifthere is a way for them to weasel out of providing what you paid for, someone has found it and is using it.

Guess you can tell by now that my recommendation is to forget the warranty and instead establish a few hundred dollar per month (or more) personal home repair/replacement savings fund - both due to the above problems and because generally the best, most reputable contractors will not have anything to do with warranty companies both for the above reasons and because the rates the contractors get are substandard, so you commonly are getting the bottom of the barrel - the contractors who cannot get enough work under their own reputation so they sign up with warranty or box store companies to bring in business.

One thing almost nobody talks about - a home has significant maintenance and repair needs, including some major ones like recarpeting, repainting and reroofing periodically - as well as the unexpected ones like foundation leakage and similar events not covered by your homeowner's insurance, so every homeowner should set up a personal home maintenance/repair savings fund to cover those costs. Typically $500-1000 per year for routine appliance and plumbing repair and such, plus typically at least that much again for periodic maintenance - repainting (when needed, not for decor purposes), reroofing, repaving, replacement HVAC systems etc - those can run typically in the very rough ballpark of $30-100,000 over a 20-30 year period for a typical home, so on average $1500-3000 per year in savings is needed to cover them. Of course, if you buy an older home that has not had a recent major remodel, your savings rate needs to go up because you will be seeing significant repairs needed much sooner than with a new house, where you hopefully have 5 years before any significant costs, and more like 10-15 years to accumulate a significant reserve before major costs start coming along. This lack of a large reserve for HVAC system repalcement, residing, reroofing, new windows, etc commonly hit people right about retirement time, leading them to either ignore needed work or take a major hit to what they thought they had saved for retirement.

Various rules of thumb for home maintenance/repair costs (which do NOT include your homeowner's insurance or discretionary remodeling or upgrades for aesthetic rather than functional reasons) run from 1-4% of the house value each year - so for an average $250,000-300,000 house that is $2500-12,000 per year ($200-1000/month) in savings that will be needed ! Some will be used on minor repairs or appliance replacement during each year, some in larger chunks every 3-10 years like for a major appliance replacement, some every 3-5 years for exterior repainting, some every 5-10 years or so for flooring, and major amounts every 15-30 years for HVAC equipment and roofing and siding, typically. And of course, this fund (which should be matched by a car maintenance/repair/replacement fund also) cannot be spent on upgrades like a new (versus replacement) deck, fancy barbecue patio, new swiming pool, etc.

You can find more on the subject of personal home maintenance fund needs by googling this search phrase -

typical annual home maintenance/repair costs

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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